January 20, 2010

Praying By Heart

Sue Tanida is both a Christian and a lifelong intuitive. Her blog, Angelic Insights, is about angels, animals, and God’s love for all of us.

I re-
discovered Jesus the Christ, and fell in love with him and Christianity, in a rather unusual way. After a hellfire-and-brimstone parochial school education, I was in my 30s before I could deal with God─and I still couldn't deal with Christ. Then, I discovered “core shamanism.”

For those unfamiliar with the term, anthropologist Michael Harner looked at indigenous spiritual practices and distilled a cross-cultural version of shamanism. More importantly, shamanism focuses on direct interaction with an alternate spiritual reality, rather than a specific dogma or belief system. So it was much to my surprise that I encountered Jesus through shamanism.

And I still encounter Jesus through shamanism; through a meditative practice called the shamanic journey where I can converse directly with Jesus. I find him funny, compassionate, loving
, and kind. And I like Jesus as well as love him.

But an individual experience of Jesus would not be enough. Eventually, he directed me to go back to church. So after attending a Lutheran church for a while, I found a dynamic, culturally-diverse Episcopal church where I learned about praying the Daily Office. Then, I encountered the Virtual Abbey folks praying the Daily Office on Twitter and was hooked.

I remember, as a child, referring to memorization as learning something "by heart." (Isn’t it interesting that no one calls it learning "by mind" or "by brain"?) I’ve become enamored of praying by heart, having been introduced to the Anglican rosary through the Episcopal Church. Why the heart? Because prayers, once memorized, have a way of bypassing the intellectual, left brain side of me so dominant in my daily life.

One of my favorite sets of prayers for the Anglican rosary includes these words for the cruciform beads: “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where is my help to come? My help comes from the Lord, the creator of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2). And on the other beads, this from Julian of Norwich: “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

Through praying this over and over when not in crisis, I was able to set my heart at ease by repeating these prayers when I was. Praying by heart has become a lifeline that has made prayer not only a daily habit, but a more-than-daily habit.

I hope you’ll also find praying by heart valuable, discovering as I did how the prayers you know by heart become a comfort to your heart in times of need.

More Resources:
(Article) "Is the Rosary Contrary to the Bible?"
(Book) Praying with Beads: Daily Prayers for the Christian Year


Raima said...

Sue, I love the way you compare learning "by heart" with praying "by heart". I, too, have found that praying the Daily Office has permanently embedded some phrases, especially the psalms, in my heart and mind. This past week I have heard, in my heart, a near-continuous mantra of psalm 46: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Thank you for your faithful presence at prayers and your heartfelt service to the Abbey.

Sue said...


Thank you. My Psalm in times of trouble is Psalm 91. The Abbey is a wonderful, ecumenical community within the body of Christ. I love finding how people who go to different churches with different styles of worship, whether Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox or Evangelical, can gather together on twitter and pray the Office together. We are Christians together in a mutually shared worship, rather than our other labels. I really like that.